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State Sen. eyes child poverty cut

State Sen. Jessica Ramos, D-East Elmhurst, wants to create a new advisory council to reduce child poverty by 50% over 10 years.

Ramos recently introduced S.9012 in the state Senate. Her legislation would create the Child Poverty Reduction Advisory Council and amend the state Finance Law to require the state Budget Director to evaluate the the state budget’s effect on child poverty reductions each year. Her goal is to cut child poverty in half over 10 years.

To do so, Ramos would give the Child Poverty Reduction Advisory Council the ability to research policy ideas, develop best practices and continually monitor relevant benchmarks to ensure that New York reduces child poverty. It will create a report which reviews current policy and makes recommendations for how to reduce childhood poverty in New York, including expanding the state’s earned income and child tax credit; expanding work training and employment programs; expanding access to childcare and housing vouchers; and other policies. Also the advisory council will release biannual reports detailing the progress the state is making in reducing the child poverty rate.

The advisory council shall be chaired by executive chamber and the commissioner of the state Office of Children and Family Services.

Ramos wrote in her legislative justification that nearly 3 million New Yorkers are living in poverty, 895,000 of whom are children. One in five New York children struggle to meet basic needs, she wrote.

“Although legislative and administrative efforts have been undertaken, the overall poverty rate in New York has remained the same over the last decade,” Ramos wrote. “Meanwhile, the federal government continues to slash benefits that have been shown to have positive impacts on lifting children and their families out of poverty. Over the next decade, this legislation aims to reduce the child poverty rate by 50%. Reducing child poverty will protect the health and general wellbeing of all New Yorkers, grow our economy, and lead to long term savings for New York’s budget.”

According to the Council on Children and Families, the state already offers a plethora of programs to help children in poverty, including the state Children’s Health Insurance Program, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, free and reduced price school lunch, WIC Special Supplemental Nutrition Program, child care assistance subsidies, Child Care Tax credit, Earned Income Tax Credit and public assistance programs.

According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2020 Kids Count Profile, 19% of New York children lived in poverty in 2018 while 29% of children had parents who lacked secure employment. The state had 38% of children live in households with a high housing cost burden.

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